Saturday, June 1, 2013

Feeling Peevish

©2013 by LeeZard
Pet peeves - we all have ‘em. I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours.
There are the obvious ones:

  •     Bigotry
  •     Hate
  •     Ignorance &; stupidity
  •     Abuse of any kind
  •     War
  •     Bullies

But what about those little quirks in other people that drive you mad, like instant friends, for example? 
I was on jury duty a few weeks ago (Yes, I’m one of those who see it as an important part of our democracy). The minute I sat down in the meeting room this guy sitting next to me starts to chat me up. I’m not one for idle chitchat, especially with complete strangers but this guy really wanted to be my friend. Despite my obvious attempts to ignore him, he was determined.
“Is this your first time on jury duty?” Silence.
“I’ve done this many times; I can help you.” Silence.
“What are you reading?” Silence.
“I hope we get picked for the same jury pool.” Silence.
I kept looking around for another empty seat but the room was packed.
“If we’re in different pools, I’ll meet you at lunch to answer any questions.” Silence.
Finally, mercifully, my name was called for the first pool. My new buddy wasn’t.
    Don’t get me going on bad drivers. Too late, let me count the ways they make me want to drive them off the road (metaphorically speaking, of course):

    • Driving at/or under the speed limit in the passing lane
    • Tailgating
    • Stopping on the freeway until someone let’s you change lanes - really?
    • Carpool lane abuse
    • Right turns into left lanes/Left turns into right lanes

    Let's step out of our cars for a moment and complain about bad parking in parking lots. There are two kinds. First, there are simply those who can't park and/or don't care. That's bad enough. What really hacks me off, though, is the guy - and it's usually a guy - with the fancy shmancy car who purposely takes up two spaces. I leave both types a little message.


    Bullshit. There’s lying and there’s bullshitting; there’s a difference. We all tell lies or withhold information once in awhile, whatever our motives. To me, bullshitting is an ongoing pattern of, well, bullshit. Won’t tolerate it.
    Invading my personal space, whatever that is. We all have that invisible line beyond which anyone but our intimates makes us uncomfortable. To me, it's a form of bullying or intimidation. Add to that touchy-feely strangers.
    How about those people who always have a sarcastic remark or joke? They think they’re being funny or they are trying to appear funny. To my mind, they are couching something mean in an alleged joke. Hey, that sounds like bullshit!
    I hate a limp, weak handshake. I’m not sure it reflects a weak character, as some will tell you. To me it’s just creepy. I like someone to look me in the eye and deliver a firm handgrip. Conversely, there’s the guy - and it’s always a guy - who tries to crush your hand. I think that shows tremendous insecurity – but that’s just me.
    Tweeny Miley Cyrus

    Tweens (we used to call ‘em teeny boppers) who dress like ho’s. C’mon moms!

    In the same vein, and this is really creepy, little girl beauty contests.

    I could go on and on but I don’t want to start sounding like a grumpy old man, which by the way, is another pet peeve. Leave your pet peeves with your comments below.

    Sunday, May 26, 2013

    Leave the Memorial in Memorial Day

    ©2013 by LeeZard

    People say it all the time, "Happy Memorial Day." To me, that's an oxymoron. Barbecues, road trips and picnics aside, Memorial Day is a somber and serious occasion.
    “Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two-dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication ‘To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.’
     Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war).”
    From Time Magazine:
    "Yale University historian David Blight places the first Memorial Day in April 1865, when a group of former slaves gathered at a Charleston, S.C., horse track turned Confederate prison where more than 250 Union soldiers had died. Digging up the soldiers' mass grave, they interred the bodies in individual graves, built a 100-yd. fence around them and erected an archway over the entrance bearing the words "Martyrs of the Race Course." On May 1, 1865, some 10,000 black Charleston residents, white missionaries, teachers, schoolchildren and Union troops marched around the Planters' Race Course, singing and carrying armfuls of roses. Gathering in the graveyard, the crowd watched five black preachers recite scripture and a children's choir sing spirituals and The Star-Spangled Banner While the story is largely forgotten today, some historians consider the gathering the first Memorial Day."
    Note to whatever’s left of Richard Nixon’s “Silent Majority:” Most of us were not then and have never been “Communists,” or “Pinkos” or any other epithet you hurled at anyone opposed to the Vietnam War. Many of us were against that war only while others of us are against war, period. That does not mean, however, that any of us were/are unpatriotic.
    Phew, glad to finally get THAT off my chest. “But why now?” You might ask. There are several reasons.
    As we all know, history repeats itself. Can you say, “War in Iraq?” Yes, there are similarities - politicians lying, young people dying thousands of miles away in a war we can't win.

    I wrote the following in 1966. It holds true today:

    He’s a boy.
    You’ve given him a gun,
    You taught him how to shoot.
    You’ve given him a knife,
    You taught him how to kill.
    You sent him off to war,
    You taught him how to hate.
    You call him a man.
    He’s a boy.
    A boy who can shoot,
    And hate.

    Iraq War Dead
    But, there he differences between that war and the Vietnam War and they are striking. The anger levels during Vietnam were off the charts on both sides of the issue. When Dubya and Dick “The Thug” Cheney lied to get us into Iraq I was chagrined at the lack of anger. Another major difference is the way we treated returning Vietnam vets (who were vilified by the Anti-War Movement) and the way we treat Mid-East and Afghani vets (with respect and gratitude).
    Vietnam War Memorial
    I, for one, never hated the poor grunts that were (Lyndon) Johnson’s and Nixon’s cannon fodder in Southeast Asia. My brother was in the first wave of Marines to land in Vietnam in the mid-60s and nearly died. He came back very changed, politically and personally. I had a pretty good insight into the price paid by those who fought in Vietnam.
    I’m still against war but ever since then, whenever I’m at a Starbucks (or any other coffee place) and see a man or woman in uniform (and, since 9/11, first responders), I always buy their drink and add a “Thank you for your service.” 
    While the plague of war persists I recognize that we must have a strong force to defend our freedoms but wars are NOT the fault of those who fight and die in them.
    When I was growing up in Laurelton, in the NYC Borough of Queens, there was a Memorial Day Parade through the town every year. It stopped at every church and synagogue where a bugler would blow Taps and a moment of silence observed. One year I had the honor of leading my Boy Scout troop in the march but I didn’t get it back then. I do now.
    Have a great Memorial Day weekend but please let’s not forget what this is all about.